Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Wild Atlantic Words Literary festival made a triumphant return with Castlebar treated to a week-long celebration of writing, music, and culture.

A festival ‘dome’ erected on Bridge Lane, housed the majority of events and activities and proved to be an incredible focal point as the free festival bounced back from a hiatus enforced by the pandemic.

Book launches, celebrity presentations, poetry, prose, history and biography, all found a place in this year’s line-up.

The festivities kicked off with Tony Lynott, an American-born author who now calls Mayo home, launching his first book, ‘The Chronicles of Máistir James Ronane’, the proceeds of which he has generously donated to the festival.

Historian and academic Dr Michael O’Connor delivered a fascinating and thought-provoking presentation during the the launch of his latest work, ‘Caribbean Slave Owners and other Lesser-Known Histories of County Mayo.’

Former RTÉ journalist Tommie Gorman enthralled

Wild Atlantic Words: Great friends Martin Carney and Tommie Gormal catching up at the Wild Atlantic Words Festival Dome, Bridge Lane, Castlebar, on Wednesday, October 6, after Tommie’s ‘Breaking News’ event with Tommy Marren. Picture: John Mee Photography

Wild Atlantic Words: John Prasifka and Sally Rooney enjoying the annual Wild Atlantic Wordsshort story reading and prize-giving at the Festival Dome at Bridge St, Castlebar, on Friday, October 8. Picture: John Mee Photography

Wild Atlantic Words (from left): Short story competition winner Michelle Coyne, runner-up Jordan Lillis, judge JP McHugh and Sally Rooney at the short story reading and prize-giving, sponsored by Bridge St, at the Festival Dome, Castlebar, on Friday, October 8. Picture: John Mee Photography

Wild Atlantic Words: ‘One Wild and Precious Evening with Dr Maureen Gaffney’ at the Festival Dome at Bridge St, Castlebar. Picture: John Mee Photography

Wild Atlantic Words: ‘Castlebar auld stock’ Ernie Sweeney and committee member John Healy at the short story reading and prize-giving, sponsored by Bridge St, at the Festival Dome, Castlebar, on Friday, October 8. Picture: John Mee Photography

those gathered during his interview with Tommie Marren on Wednesday evening. Swinford solicitor and coroner Pat O’Connor delved into his book, ‘The Life and Times of a Country Solicitor’, while in conversation with Marie Louise O’Donnell, on Thursday.

Psychologist Maureen Gaffney proved to be one of the most popular guests at this year’s festival. She delivered an inspirational discussion based on her book, ‘Your One Wild and Precious Life.’

On Saturday, former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, performed the official launch of Cormac O’Malley’s new book, ‘Ernie O’Malley, A Life’, co-authored with Harry Martin, Also on Saturday, Sean Cadden spoke on his book ‘The Men of the West’, which recounts the gallant exploits of the men of the West Mayo Brigade IRA.

Friend of the festival and Castlebar’s very own literary superstar Sally Rooney, was among the audience when the winners of this year’s Wild Atlantic Short Story competition were announced. The competition was adjudicated by talented writer JP McHugh. A pair of Galway scribes were named winner and runner-up, with Michelle Coyne taking first prize for her story, ‘Scale’ with ‘Waiting’ by Jordan Lillis in second place.

The hugely popular ‘Poem and a Pint’ was once again skilfully compered by the quick-witted Ken Armstrong. Enda Kenny and Marie Louise O’Donnell were among the troubadours who graced the podium with a poetry rendition. At ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ John Healy was joined by Sean Rice, John Chambers, Joan Geraghty, and Liam Egan, for a celebration of ‘Auld Stock’ tales.

Another new addition to this year’s festival was the Wild Atlantic Fringe. Presented by Bridge St, in conjunction with Wild Atlantic Words, the festival dome hosted yoga and some amazing live music performances. Inisbofin balladeer Padraig Jack and traditional music powerhouses John Kilkenny and David Munnelly delivered two stunning nights of tunes.

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